These last few days before the New Year are the best time to take stock of the business processes you use every day. What’s working well? What isn’t? Where could you make improvements in efficiency that will help you work smarter, not harder in 2016?
Having noticed the title of this post, you probably realize that I’m aiming to help you address that last question. Following up a great post written by one of my colleagues last week that could help you tighten up internal communication, today I’m coming at you with two more strategies that will help with your processes for preventing knowledge loss and data analytics/reporting.
No More Brain Drain
For an industry as centered around relationships and experience as the events business, documentation is absolutely key to making sure your valuable contacts and processes don’t walk out the door with employees when they leave.
Below you’ll find three ways I’ve seen real organizers and event organizations tackle the issue, along with a little personal judgement about which way(s) are best.
The Hard Way: Traditional documentation
The traditional way of documentation looks like Rolodexes, file folders and long, drawn-out meetings every six months or so to sit everyone down, talk everything through and manually draw up the latest version of the “business plan.”
The Smart Way: Formal Mentorship Programs
A more efficient and effective solution to the brain drain dilemma is a uniquely low tech one: formal mentorship programs. When it comes down to it, all this really means is doing a better job capitalizing on the knowledge of senior employees in your organization. Creating a formal mentoring program that pairs newer employees with older, more experienced staff is a great way to ensure that key information about your business processes doesn’t leave the business when they do.
Doing this well involves setting up regular meetings and activities for mentors and mentees to interact, and is, of course, improved by technology like company-wide wikis or intranets where what is learned can be documented and stored.
The Smartest Way: Integrated software
However, the option that clearly comes out on top here is integrated software.
Think about it: if every lead, client and vendor is cataloged in a universally accessible database, along with their entire communication and/or order history –including frequency of communication, contact preferences and detailed notes – you immediately eliminate the mad scramble to pick up the pieces when a star employee disappears while upping your game across the board in routine customer service, internal communication and the handful of other things including data analytics and reporting. Speaking of…
Winning the Numbers Game
You already know that data analysis and reporting is the key to making good business decisions but if it’s next to impossible to find the data in the first place or it takes an incredible amount of time and energy to complete, you’re almost guaranteed to miss out on valuable information.
The Hard Way: Manual data collection and reporting
The hard way on this one involves rounding up the various spreadsheets, documents or separate software solutions you’re using to store things like client information, billing and order history and so on, making side-by-side comparisons (whether it’s year-over-year, month-to-month, etc.) and creating a report on your findings from scratch. Every.Single.Time.
The Smart Way: Various tools for analysis and custom built reports
The smart way to handle data analysis and reporting across your organization is to use specific tools that have been built for this purpose. Whether that’s software like Domo that connects to all your various standalone systems and pulls data into custom reports or built-in reporting functionality from each of your separate systems, this can cut out a lot of the time you’d waste manually searching for info and building a report on your own.
The limitations of this route include the added expense of yet another technology solution, including the time it takes to connect it with each of your separate software systems and to learn how to use it. It’s also generally unwise to spend a lot of additional money and effort developing complex custom reports (custom Crystal reports, for example) that can be difficult to edit over time.
The Smartest Way: Integrated software
Wouldn’t you know it? Integrated software is the best way forward in this regard too! Now don’t get me wrong, using tools that have been built specifically for data analysis and reporting is better than nothing. But “general” analytics and reporting software is never going to be as thorough or as easy to use as a system that was built specifically for events and “personalized” to fit the way you do business. One, centralized system with powerful reporting and analysis functionality and access to templates for standard reports (that actually make sense for the events industry), wins every time.
Hungry for More?
Looking for some more juicy tips on business process optimization for events? You’re in luck! Our latest Ebook is brimming with additional info about best practices and strategies that could make your life easier and more efficient in 2016.
If you’ve got any tips, tricks or best practices to add, share the wealth in the comments!